Liverpool study investigates impact of Gencoa’s antimicrobial coating in healthcare settings
the trial of the Gencoa coating technology will take place at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital. Image courtesy of Matt Livey, Architecture, NBBJ, and HKS
A study has been launched at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital to explore how a new antimicrobial coating can protect the NHS by reducing healthcare associated infections (HCAIs).
HCAIs are a risk to patients, visitors, and staff, and cover a range of different infections including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridioides difficile (C. difficile).
Each year they result in significant costs to the NHS and increased illness and time in hospital for patients.
And an estimated 3.5% of those people who acquire an HCAI die from the infection, according to research published by the British Medical Journal.
The bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause these infections can be transmitted by contact with a contaminated surface and, even where manual cleaning of surfaces is performed regularly, contamination can still occur.
In addition, the use of environmentally-damaging chemicals and how these can be safely reduced is an important consideration for the NHS.
To lower the risk of HCAIs from touching contaminated surfaces, a new type of antimicrobial film coating has been developed by expert vacuum coating solutions specialist, Gencoa.
This multi-disciplinary, multi-partner study is also testament to the thriving collaborative approach to research and innovation in Liverpool City Region, bringing together clinical, industrial, and academic experts
The Merseyside-based manufacturer’s product can be used on a wide variety of healthcare surfaces with the aim of quickly eliminating environmental contamination between cleaning.
To date, the film technology has been used on surfaces in busy public areas, for example on train station touchscreens during the COVID-19 pandemic.
And Gencoa is now looking to explore applications in healthcare settings.
The initial stage of assessing the product’s viability for hospitals was undertaken in partnership with the Infection Innovation Consortium (iiCON).
Established in 2020, iiCON is a world-leading centre for infection innovation and R&D based at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, which works in partnership with Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LUHFT).
As part of iiCON’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) SME support programme, a fully-funded study was conducted to verify the potential effectiveness of Gencoa’s antimicrobial coating.
The research particularly focused on pathogens for which new antibiotic treatments are required.
And the results proved the solution could in principle be applied to a hospital setting and the data was a key part of Gencoa receiving additional funding for a larger study alongside LUHFT, which runs the Royal Liverpool University Hospital.
Innovate UK awarded a £584,066 funding grant as part of its BioMedical Catalyst Award to a partnership between Gencoa, LSTM, and LUHFT to optimise the coating for use in healthcare environments and look for real-world data on efficacy and safety in a clinical environment.
This project has shown that creating links between healthcare, academia, and SMEs is a great way to rapidly progress new technologies and it’s a route we hope to adopt with other businesses to simultaneously help them into the healthcare market while getting much-needed innovations into the NHS as quickly as possible
As part of the trial, antimicrobial coatings will be installed within clinical environments, including touchscreens and door handles in the new state-of-the-art Royal Liverpool University Hospital, which opened in October 2022.
To create the coatings, Midlands-based Diamond Coatings will transfer the new technology to production and develop a high-volume roll-to-roll capability for coating adhesive pads in order to protect screens and other surfaces.
The coatings will be in place for up to 12 months and will be assessed for how they perform under standard NHS infection prevention and control guidance for cleaning.
Systematic environmental testing will be performed of coated and uncoated surfaces to look for differences in contamination.
And, parallel to this, testing will be conducted in a mock ward environment at LSTM to investigate whether changes to clinical cleaning pathways could be safely considered.
Dermot Monaghan, managing director of Gencoa, said: “The project utilises a ‘solid state’ coating applied to a surface by vacuum deposition in order to reduce contagion by rapidly killing microbes present.
“The coating is highly robust and provides a continuous self-sanitising effect for touchscreens and other parts in highly-trafficked areas.
“The academic and grant support, combined with the material technology capabilities of industrial partners, has been vital to advancing Gencoa’s innovation into the healthcare sector.”
Dr Adam Roberts of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, who led the research at iiCON, said: “The ERDF-funded study that we conducted within iiCON meant that Gencoa could access our advanced research facilities and the skills of a world-leading team that specialises in infectious diseases in order to prove the antibacterial performance of its new film coating.
“This was significant as it helped achieve further funding from Innovate UK and a partnership with LUFHT which will move the research onto the next stage and take the results from our laboratories into the real world.
Undertaking this study in such a new healthcare facility provides a rare opportunity to analyse innovative technology in a real-world, state-of-the-art environment
“This project has shown that creating links between healthcare, academia, and SMEs is a great way to rapidly progress new technologies and it’s a route we hope to adopt with other businesses to simultaneously help them into the healthcare market while getting much-needed innovations into the NHS as quickly as possible.”
And Professor Terry Jones, director for research and innovation at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Finding new ways to combat HCAIs and to reduce the threat from antibacterial resistant microbes is of vital importance.
“This multi-disciplinary, multi-partner study is also testament to the thriving collaborative approach to research and innovation in Liverpool City Region, bringing together clinical, industrial, and academic experts.
“Undertaking this study in such a new healthcare facility provides a rare opportunity to analyse innovative technology in a real-world, state-of-the-art environment.”